Blogging as reflective practice

You are reading a blog that started off about art practice-based research charting
the journey of doing a phd. It explores alternative ways of using hand held devices
to create print-based interactive artworks using graphical tagging such as QR-codes.
Art, design, technology and craft were the main themes in writing. But life gets in the
way, and over this journey the story takes unexpected happy twists along the paths
of having a baby, going on a UK Digital Economy Sandpit, meeting fanstastic people,
and subsequent group success in funding for a large multidisciplinary research
project called TOTeM.

Entries in ISEA2011 (4)

A CHI Rebuttal

Back in late September in the brief window that I was in the UK between coming back from ISEA in Turkey and going away to Australia for IMPACT, I received an email from the one of people associated with CHI saying she had seen my and Chris Speed’s TOTeM paper at ISEA and would I be able to submit a paper for CHI?

CHI is one of the top ranking conferences in the world for Human Computer Interaction and anyone worth their salt knows this one is a good one to present at. It is also very very VERY hard to get into, and the review process is very strict, so being asked to submit a paper doesn't mean it will actually get in. Still, to be noticed by the folk at CHI was a compliment. For non- tecchies it is a little on the dry side and rather geeky, but it does get you marvellous REF brownie points! For 2012 they have Digital Arts strand, so it has the potential to be a little more stimulating to arts based research.

So when I was asked to submit a paper I was rather chuffed. The problem was the deadline was 2 days away and at very moment (the risks of checking email on my iphone) I was actually packing to catch a plane with my 2 year old to Australia the very next day. My headspace was in toddler clothing, what toys to take and weight restrictions, not HCI, explaining my research and word counts.

I emailed back explaining the situation, saying the best I could do was submit my ISEA paper, formatted for their requirements. I was told this would be OK, because if the paper did get accepted I would have until January to make changes and by then it would be a different paper. So I changed the title and submitted, knowing that it was a total wild card (to be honest I didn’t even read it when I submitted), and we would be damn lucky to get in.

We got the reviews of the paper a couple of days ago, and I wasn’t surprised that it didn't get a very high ranking, but I was surprised that it wasn’t out and out rejected. One reviewer actually gave it a 4 (out of possible 5), which was balanced out by one who gave it a 1.5, and the 3rd review was somewhere in the middle. I think if it had been accepted in its current state I would have been rather disappointed in CHI and begin to doubt their credibility.

The reviews, I feel, are actually really useful, and one reviewer actually took the time to list some really good online resources. The whole process is great for me to focus on disseminating my research and being able to clarify it to wider audiences. We have to write a rebuttal (5,000 word character count limit, including carriage returns) and actually I am looking forward to this, even if it is due at the end of this week and I am currently in bed with a nasty bout of the flu.  This will give me the opportunity to write I guess, more of a proposal for what I would really like to present at CHI, still on the same research, but done much better than throwing them a second-hand paper at the last minute from another conference. Their recommendations in my opinion seem fair and would definitely strengthen our paper, so I am quite happy to have been given the opportunity to go through the rebuttal process, even if we don’t get any further.

Since I do sit between quite a few disciplines, I didn’t really have a clear understanding of CHI’s rebuttal process, or the way in which they review and score papers, so I did a bit of research and came up with some useful blog posts:

David Karger is a CHI reviewer and his article on “Do we need three reviewers for every paper”? was quite helpful in understanding how they score papers, how many submissions they get and the general acceptance rates.

Gene Golovchinsky’s blog post on “Writing a CHI Rebuttal” is excellent.

Bryn Marie Evans' post on “Tips for dealing with CHI rebuttals” is also very useful.

ISEA Istanbul 2011

What a fantastic 5 days! I couldn’t attend the full 14 because I have to go out to IMPACT in Australia, but what I did see was full of great papers and really interesting talks! I really enjoyed a panel about 6 x 6/36: An Artists Book/ Exhibition project where they were using QR code stickers distributed in small books. The French group “nunc” are exploring similar areas to me, in terms of the physical artefact being augmented with digital content but coming at them from slightly different perspectives. Jesvin Yeo of Nanyang Technological University in Singapore also gave an interesting talk about experimental typography in the gallery using RFID tagging to trigger interactive works.

A boat trip on one of the evenings was also a great way to see Istanbul, both the Asian and European sides from one viewpoint in the middle, though after a long day of conferencing, a 3 hour networking event (sans drinks & nibblies)  with even more talks was maybe a little too much… still I felt that I got in as much as could!

I would have loved to have stayed longer to see a bit more of Istanbul, which is an incredible city and I would have loved to have seen a bit more of the Biennale, but the next conference calls, and off again I go to my next destination!

Two places at once

Finally got my works out of Australian customs for the exhibition, but not after stumping up $250 just for the privilege of releasing them, with absolutely no financial gain to anyone except FedEx. Remind me never to use them again for sending work. I then had to write a letter to FedEx to get part  (less than half!!!) of my money back – the rest I suspect they pocket just because they feel like it. Will resist the temptation to go a rant on the evils of money grabbing courier companies in cahoots with government policies.

Have also been working on a paper and presentation with Chris Speed for ISEA2011 in Istanbul, this September before I go to Australia. I’m looking forward to finally getting to ISEA. Last time I had a paper accepted in 2009, I ended up not being able to go because I had just given birth, and post-natal life didn’t go according to my overly zealous and rather naïve plans. I was very lucky though, in that Chris was very kind and presented for me then, so I didn't totally miss out, just wasn’t there in person. I remember many years ago when I worked for dLux media arts in Sydney, hearing of the “bigwigs” in Australian New Media Art at the time swanning off to ISEA and thinking how fantastic it all was. Now being based in Europe I have a totally different perspective of the whole event, and am much much less in awe of things… probably that also comes from being in 15 odd years older as well.

Going to ISEA does mean, however, that I miss my own exhibition opening of Coded Moments in Australia, which is a real shame, but I can’t be in two places at once…  

Getting busy with dissemination

Lately I’ve been tending to the dissemination of my research, and I often feel like I’m always in need of more time, just to get things done! I’m in the process of adding the final touches to presentation of Tales from the Maker, which will be presented at the EAD (the European Academy of Design) Conference in Porto on Thursday the 5th of May.

I’ve been invited to speak about TOTeM at openMIC Mobile Innovation Camp on the 19th of May, which is taking place here in Dundee and looks really interesting!

Recently I’ve also had a paper accepted at ISEA2011, which will take place from the 14 – 21st September in Istanbul. Its being co-written with Chris Speed, a colleague on the TOTeM project, which is great!  With this, its starting to look like September is going to be a very very busy month indeed with events happening at the same time in Turkey and Australia! (the logistics of being at opposite ends of the globe to  be sorted out later…)

I am presenting two papers, Print the Code > Code the Print, and Tagged at DCA at the end of September in Melbourne at the Impact7 - Intersections & Counterpoints Conference. Related to this, I’ve also been collaborating with the University of Victoria for an exhibition space to show my artworks in the Coded Moments series as well as some older stuff from Signals in the City, opening on the 6th of September, as part of the Month of Print, happening in Australia throughout the whole of September. For this last bit I really have to thank the organisers of IMPACT and The Print Council of Australia who have been very supportive and have been so helpful in promoting my work to exhibition venues